Healey puts his tour ghost to rest

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The Independent Online

Discretion is the better part of valour, even for the Leicester Lip. Having kept his counsel following the Lions disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday, at which he was found guilty on breach of contract and disrepute charges and fined a chunk of his summer tour fee, Austin Healey has now decided against lodging an appeal.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any negative effects this incident has had on the name of the 2001 Lions," he said yesterday.

The Tigers scrum-half landed himself in an ocean of hot water when his ghosted column appeared in The Guardian on the eve of the final Test with the Wallabies in Sydney last July.

Even though the disciplinary panel accepted Healey's claim that passages rubbishing the opposition were penned by the journalist Eddie Butler rather than himself, they insisted that professional players should take full responsibility for articles appearing under their names.

"I should have checked what was being written in my name," Healey admitted in a statement issued, but apparently not ghosted, by the Leicester club.

"Similarly, if the management of a team allows players to enter into such contracts and retain the power to vet such columns, they should also ensure the process is carried out. I also believe it would have been better if the disciplinary process had been carried out before the end of the tour.

"I gave my total commitment to the tour, and was disappointed at the way the charges were worded. However, I accept the penalty."